Visualizing Magnitude and Direction in Flow Fields

David H.F. Pilar
Master's Thesis Defense


Monday, May. 14, 2012, 10:00am
Chase 130

In weather visualizations, it is common to see vector data represented by glyphs placed on grids.  The glyphs either do not encode magnitude in readable steps, or have designs that interfere with the data, and grids form strong but irrelevant patterns. Directional, quantitative glyphs bent along streamlines are more effective for visualizing flow patterns.

With the goal of improving the perception of flow patterns in weather forecasts, we created two variations on the wind barb and two new quantitative glyphs (one orthogonal); two orthogonal streamline based designs, and an animation with moving orthogonal line segments.  We tested the ability of subjects to determine wind direction and speed: the results show the new wind designs are superior to the traditional. We asked student and professional meteorologists to rate the static and animated marine weather visualizations with mixed results.